With the beginning of free agency in the NFL just one day...
NFL Free Agency: Is The Return of Kellen Winslow in the Cleveland Browns Future?
By Sam Ingro
After multiple quotes from Kellen Winslow stating that he is “healthy” and “ready,” it is only natural for the speculation to turn to the team that drafted him; the Cleveland Browns.
Whether it be coincidence or impeccable timing, Winslow has become a free agent the same offseason that the man who made him a superstar has taken over as head coach of the Browns. In 2007, Winslow had the greatest season of his NFL career under then offensive coordinator, now head coach, Rob Chudzinski. He hauled in 82 receptions for 1,106 yards and five touchdowns, and went on to make a trip to the Pro Bowl after San Diego’s Antonio Gates withdrew due to injury.
The timing could not be any better, either.
Currently, with the anticipated departure of Benjamin Watson and Alex Smith, the only tight end signed on the Browns roster is Jordan Cameron. While Cameron has shown flashes of potential, they surely will not take their chances on the position that Chudzinski emphasizes the most. The Browns will look to load up at tight end, Winslow could be a great start and Coach Chudzinski knows he needs bodies on the roster.
“I think the position has grown in importance over the last 10 years,” Chudzinski said during the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis last week. “You look at the type of guys that are coming out in college and you’re seeing so many more guys who are athletic, receiver types. So the game’s evolved in that way. You want those versatile type guys who can do everything.”
The quote from Chudzinski indicates they will address the position in the draft also, but Winslow brings a veteran presence, swagger and confidence with him. Not to mention he brings a warrior mentality to the position, the kind that could quickly spread through the lockerroom. That attitude is priceless, and Cleveland has both the need for pass catchers and money to spend in free agency. So why not reunite Chudzinski and Winslow to see if they can rekindle some 2007 magic?
The knocks on Winslow are that he cannot stay healthy, but if you look at his last three seasons in Tampa Bay, he appeared in all 16 games each year. Not only did he appear, but he produced as well. Over those three seasons, he racked up 218 receptions for 2,377 yards and 12 touchdowns. Last season, he struggled to find a role in Seattle’s offense, before being asked to be released from the Patriots due to joining the team so late into the season.
The return of Winslow could easily make up for the production the Browns will be losing with Watson leaving in free agency. Players that bring game-changing dynamics like Winslow does, do not come around too often in the league. The Browns would be wise to give Winslow another shot under Chudzinski this season–let’s just hope they don’t get the same idea with Braylon Edwards.
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